Today in people who made a difference in Tommy’s life

Ray Hennig died this week. You probably didn’t know him, but many Texas musicians did.

His original Heart Of Texas music store was in Waco, and he changed everything.

Long before the Austin store even existed, he put most of the other Waco instrument dealers out of business. How? By treating us (musicians) like people, instead of marks to cough up cash.
He allowed and encouraged us to hang out at HOT music, whether we were there to buy something or not.
At Holtze or Buzze music, if you asked to try a guitar or amp and didn’t look like you had the funds on you, you got the stinkeye.
At HOT, if you asked, Ray would plug it in for you and tell you to go to town and crank it up.
THIS breeds respect from your potential customers, and turns them into lifetime customers.
Ray even put recliners and sofas in the display room so that the local musicians who often met there could have a place to sit.
Also, his repair tech J.D. Bennet (real name: Deitz Gengelbach) went on to become a head amplifier designer at Crown Amplification, then Peavey.

Rest easy, Ray.  You had the BEST run.

My Rickenbacker 4001 that Ray sold to me in 1977 and that I still have :
One of these days I’ll tell you all the story about how a jackass named Vernon Howell emptied Ray’s store out with his suck-ass guitar playing….

3 thoughts on “Today in people who made a difference in Tommy’s life

  1. I didn’t know Ray Hennig, but I knew and know his vending brethren and sistren. I have wonderful fond memories of book store owners, bike shop mechanics, and others who take an interest in their customers. My favorite purveyors are the ones who greet you and say, “Oh, I have something there that I think you’ll be interested in.” Sadly, their emporia tend to die off when they do, but while they’re open you’ve glimpsed a bit of nirvana.

  2. J.D. was a genius. If he couldn’t fix it (and often on the cheap), it couldn’t be fixed. And again part of the ethos. Value for money, repeat business.

    1. People in Waco only knew him as “J.D. Bennett”, until one day I saw his paycheck lying exposed in a pile of mail on one of the display cases. It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to figure out who that was, as the store only had about four employees at the time, two of which were named Hennig.

      I started calling him “D.G.”, and he never forgave me for it.
      His fave expression when checking out an issue was “Well, let’s put the old JD earball on it”.
      I also did (and can still do) a creditable impression of him.

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